stories for young people
Parents please click on green Parent tab above
Matt's early steps into open employment
Employers need to get as much information as possible before they decide if they are willing and accepting of people with disability.
Don’t feel a failure if you have to leave a job. It took me six months to decide to leave one job. I wasn’t sure if Ishould leave but it was just too physically demanding. It took me ages and ages and I asked advice and then decided.
These were my first jobs and I realised that your first job isn’t always going to be the one that lasts forever.
My current employers were willing to adapt to my needs. I started at four hours, twice a week for eight months and then increased the hours. They are extremely kind people who are very open to the process of the disability employment program.
There was no judgement, they don’t care about my issues, I am not being asked about it a million times a week.
Matt B. aged 25
Moving on from DES
DES was good in the sense that they worked hard to find me a placement in an industry I was interested in (animal care).
The downsides were that going through DES and having a case worker visit me at work meant that my co-workers knew what was going on (there was no choice to keep my autism to myself). Also there were limits to what I was allowed to do and I was constantly being assessed.
It wasn't until the Council took over and I left the DES program that I was able to really move forward with my career.
I would suggest using DES as a starting place to get experience and confidence, but probably not to use it long term or permanently unless 100% necessary. Although it can be scary leaving the program and giving up the support.
Nova Employment CEO Martins Wren speaks plainly on service providers
"80% of job seekers with autism are getting the wrong service provider who see them as a bundle of money. If you go with some group that is interested in gaining the most amount of money for you, then you are wasting your life."
Things to think about
- The gold standard is individualised job search. That's what works, and so does aiming high, for more than 15 hours a week. An individualised job search is a program just for you.
- Often service providers are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, they bang it really hard and try to fit it in.
- Providers need a small caseload, and a good understanding of the client group.
- Parents want to hear that there are some jobs that suit people with ASD but it’s really so individualised. For example we have a young girl who works in hydroponics and now she is going to work in a packers, she does 25 hours a week, 5 hours a day.
- We have had people with ASD in quite skilled jobs. You don’t have anything in mind for a person until you know them, you need to spend time with them.
Things to ask DES service providers
- Personal attention: always ask how many people are on a worker's caseload and overall you want it to be less than thirty.
- Does the provider match jobs to jobseeker (good) or jobseeker to job (not so good)?
- Ask what the average weekly hours of work were for the last five people placed.
- Ask for the number of people put in work with similar disability to yourself.
- Make sure you get personal support rather than a subsidy for the employer. You need support from someone who can turn up and help, and that person must have a small caseload.
- Ask the provider, 'for the last five people you placed how much money was used as subsidy rather than for on-site support?'
- Has the provider got multi-skilled, expert and well supported staff? Do they spend money to train the staff? Staff turnover at disability employment services is often 50% which is appalling.
"You have got to be treated as yourself not as a 9-digit number."
Martin Wren, CEO of Nova Employment
Finding a good DES provider
Download and print out a list of questions to as a DES provider here: DES questions to ask